Pope Francis: Americans’ ‘Irresponsible Lifestyle’ Fuels Climate Crisis

Pope Francis
Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

ROME — Pope Francis has thrown the moral authority of the papacy behind the so-called climate crisis, insisting that the world “is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point” due to global warming.

“Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident,” the pontiff writes in a new teaching letter titled Laudate Deum (Praise God).

“No one can ignore the fact that in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought and other cries of protest on the part of the earth that are only a few palpable expressions of a silent disease that affects everyone,” he writes in the letter published Wednesday.

The pope goes on to say that “what we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming, at such a speed that it will take only one generation – not centuries or millennia – in order to verify it.”

Despite the fact that the United States is one of the countries with the cleanest air in the world, the pope singles out America as specially to blame for the “climate emergency.”

“If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact,” he declares.

The warming of the planet is provoked by a “global imbalance,” Francis states. “Droughts and floods, the dried-up lakes, communities swept away by seaquakes and flooding ultimately have the same origin.”

Moreover, he alleges, “millions of people are losing their jobs due to different effects of climate change: rising sea levels, droughts and other phenomena affecting the planet have left many people adrift.”

“It is no longer possible to doubt the human – ‘anthropic’ – origin of climate change,” the pope claims, because global warming is caused by “the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” which is 423 parts per million as of June 2023.

The only solution to the climate crisis, the pope asserts, is multilateralism.

“For there to be solid and lasting advances, I would insist that, preference should be given to multilateral agreements between States,” he writes.

The very fact that answers to problems can come from any country “ends up presenting multilateralism as an inevitable process,” he contends.

Francis has devoted more teaching letters (2) to the environment than to any other topic, and has made a denunciation of the “climate crisis” a hallmark of his pontificate.

As the pope was preparing his latest letter over the summer, however, a group of over 1,600 prominent scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, was preparing to issue the “World Climate Declaration,” refuting the existence of a so-called “climate emergency.”

Among other things, the Declaration asserts that climate models have proven inadequate for predicting global warming, that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant, and that climate change has not increased natural disasters.

“The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases,” the Declaration notes. “The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.”

Moreover, the world has warmed “significantly less than predicted by IPCC on the basis of modeled anthropogenic forcing,” the text states, and the gap between the real world and the modeled world “tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.”

“There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent,” the document declares. “However, there is ample evidence that CO2-mitigation measures are as damaging as they are costly.”

“There is no climate emergency,” it concludes. “Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm.”

“We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050. Go for adaptation instead of mitigation; adaptation works whatever the causes are,” it adds.


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